Zukowski Wins Second Career U.S. Title

by Sal Zanca, special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Christine Zukowski
Photo by Michelle Harvath

Results

(1/4/03) It took a few years, but Christine Zukowski (University of Delaware FSC) added another U.S. title to her name. She was the 2001 U.S. juvenile girls champion, and on Saturday she became the U.S. novice ladies champion at the 2004 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Skating to music from the string quartet Bond, the clockwise jumper moved up from second by winning the free skate with a program that included a triple Lutz-double toe and three more triples.

Late in the program Zukowski's mind wandered, and she downgraded two planned triple jumps to doubles.

"I was so excited that my mind got lost and I wasn't thinking too much about the jump at the time and was thinking more about what I did before," Zukowski said. "I messed up a little bit."

Unlike her counterpart in the men's event, Princeton Kwong, the idea of skating before a large crowd in Sunday's Chevy Skating Spectacular, where the champions in each discipline will skate, doesn't bother Zukowski. In fact she is familiar with big crowds having skated at Philadelphia Flyers hockey games.

Danielle Shepard (Granite State FSC) was second, opening up with a triple toe-double loop followed by a triple Lutz. However she singled her Salchow, which made her more determined to train.

"I messed up one jump," Shepard said. "I know I can do it in practice, and so I have to go back and perfect everything."

Shepard, who is coached by Alexander Vlassov, had a rarely seen one-foot Axel into a triple toe. Vlassov also coached his daughter Julia to the novice pairs title.

Megan Oster (Wagon Wheel FSC) was third, moving up from seventh after the short. Skating to music from Yanni, she included two jumps that she had never completed in competition.

"I tried to relax and I did the triple loop, and I never tried that in competition before," Oster said. "Then the triple flip was the first time I landed it [in competition], although I tried it at sectionals."

Jessica Lee (St. Moritz ISC), who led after the short program, dropped to fifth overall after falling twice and popping another jump to music from "Carmen." Cara Kinney (Indiana/World Skating Academy) won the pewter medal.